Mohammed Khalifa – also known as Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi and Abu Muthanna Al-Muhajir – has been charged with conspiring to provide material to support a terrorist organization, resulting in death, for which he may face life in prison.
The criminal complaint was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Saturday.
Khalifa, 38, was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January 2019 and recently transferred to FBI custody.
It is alleged that he joined the terrorist group as a fighter in 2013 before being recruited to the media bureau, the ‘Diwan of Central Media,’ in 2014 where he became one of the lead translators and English-language narrators for ISIS’s propaganda material.
U.S. prosecutors claim that he essentially ran the terrorist group’s English media sector including videos, audio statements and an online magazine becoming a prominent ISIS media figure.
Mohammed Khalifa, 38, (pictured) a Saudi-born Canadian who U.S. prosecutors allege is responsible for prominent English ISIS propaganda videos has been brought to Virginia to charged with conspiring to provide material to support a terrorist organization, resulting in death
It is alleged that Khalifa helped in the production of 15 ISIS recruitment and propaganda videos during his time as a prominent media figure within the terrorist group (Pictured: ISIS fighters from the Islamic State group march in Raqqa, Syria)
He is also accused of essentially running the ISIS media bureau, the ‘Diwan of Central Media,’ producing videos, audio statements and an online magazine to recruit members and incite violence against the U.S., allies, and its citizens (Pictured: ISIS , fighters from extremist Islamic State group parade in Raqqa, Syria)
They allege that Khalifa translated and narrated around 15 ISIS recruitment videos, including two of the group’s most influential efforts at luring Westerners: ‘Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,’ in 2014, and ‘Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,’ in 2017.
The videos included brutal executions of prisoners and hostages, calls to violence against the U.S., allied nations, and their citizens, and footage of ISIS attacks around the world.
They also portrayed glamorized portrayals of ISIS, its fighters, and the violence they encouraged. One video claimed to show the daily life of ISIS members who encouraged viewers to conduct attacks against non-Muslims.
One video includes a voice recording of the Pulse Nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, pledging his allegiance to ISIS during the horrific 2016 mass shooting in Orlando.
Omar Mateen, (pictured) the mass shooter of the 2016 attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, is heard pledging his allegiance to ISIS in one of the propaganda videos that Khalifa is accused of producing
Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia said, ‘As alleged, Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence.’
‘Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS’s online propaganda, Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS,’ Parekh said.
Due to this fluency in both English and Arabic, Khalifa’s work aimed to enlist ISIS supporters to travel to ISIS-controlled areas to join the group or to conduct attacks in the West.
Throughout his time producing ISIS propaganda material, he continued to engage in active combat for the terrorist group up until his capture.
‘As alleged in the complaint, as one of the leading figures in ISIS’ English media section, Mohammed Khalifa contributed to the radicalization of individuals through his English narration of ISIS recruitment propaganda,’ said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
‘While many Americans are aware of the brutal and violent crimes committed by many ISIS actors, ISIS’ efforts to radicalize individuals to travel to Syria and commit violence on its behalf were equally horrendous.’
The case is being prosecuted by a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the National Security Division‘s Counterterrorism Section.